Friday, June 28, 2013

Meet Mel + a WINNER!

Good morning, friends! Today I am so excited to introduce you to Mel and her family. Though Mel and I have never met, I consider her a friend. One of my "blogger friends", as I usually refer to those of you who I have gotten to know so well over the last couple of years. Anyway, her blog is so great (and so is she!), that I thought you should know about it. :) So meet Mel:


I was thrilled when Heather asked me to Guest Post on her blog.
She is just the sweetest! 
A little bit about me, I'm Mel & I blog at The Larson Lingo.
A little bit about me...I'm a California girl, born & raised!
I love Jesus, wine, coffee, photography & throwing parties.
Target is my Happy Place.
I am a part time 7th grade math teacher and have been teaching for 9 years. 
I have been married for 11 years (in August) to Kevin and we have 3 sweet kids.
 Kate is 6, Claire is 4 and our baby boy Luke is 10.5 months old.
My sweet baby boy Luke is turning ONE in just 6 weeks and I am in birthday party planning mode.
One of my favorite things to do is to plan parties.
For some people, throwing parties is stressful to them, but to me, it is theraputic!
It gives me a chance to use my creativity (which I don't get to use that much teaching math. Ha!)
I always jump at the chance to throw or host a party, whether it is a birthday party for my kids, a bridal or baby shower, holiday with family or a special get together with friends.

My love for planning parties exploded after I had my first daughter, Kate.
I had so much fun planning her first birthday party and since then, my love for parties has increased 10 fold.
I thought I would share some party planning tips that I have learned over the past 6 years of planning birthday parties. These will work if you are planning a small party or a larger party.

1. Pick a theme
I am all about the theme. I try and pick a theme that is reflective of what my girls like at that time in their life. I give them suggestions on what their party theme could be and sometimes they go with it and sometimes they pick something totally different. For example, for Kate's 4th birthday, she wanted a Cinderella party. I am not a fan of the "commercialized" themes but she was all about Cinderella and no other party theme would do, so of course we had a Cinderella party. I didn't use a lot of Cinderella decorations, but mostly used the Cinderella blue & purple (to incorporate Kate's favorite color)
When you pick a theme, it helps with the party planning because:
1. It focuses on what your child likes at that age (and will be fun to look back on)
2. It gives you direction & focus for the party
3. You can get creative with decor, food & games for the party if you have a theme

2. Invitations
(Invite I made for Claire's Cowgirl Party)

Once you have your theme, it's time to send out invitations. To me, the invite sets the tone and gets people excited for the party. You can make your own invites, send out an evite or order one. I learned how to make my own invites in photoshop, but if you don't know how to do that, you can make some with scrapbooking supplies or order them online. I like including a photo on my invites (mostly so that I can look back & see how my girls have changed over the years).

3. Plan Ahead
I am some what obsessive about planning parties for my girls. I will start planning them in my head 9 months before their birthday. (Yes, I know I am crazy)
Once we have a theme picked out, I keep my eye out for things on sale/clearance the months before the party. For Kate's Cinderella Party, I was able to get Cinderella books in the $1 spot at Target 4 months before her party. These were the perfect party favor for her guests.
And, for her Rainbow Art party, I got markers, crayons & notepads for $.50 during Target's Back to School Sale (6 months before her party!)
I also keep a list of what needs to be done for the parties in a notebook. This way I can map out things I need to get done ahead of time.
6 weeks before the party I make the guest list, create the invites & go shopping for party goods like plates, napkins & cups.
1 month before the party, I mail out the invites.
2-3 weeks before the party I make the cupcake toppers, food labels, favor tags & other decorations.
1-2 weeks before the party, I have the favors & favor tags ready to go.
The week of the party is spent with last minute prep & food shopping.
The night before the party, I usually stay up WAY too late getting last minute things done, like food prep & cupcakes. But as I throw more parties, I am getting my groove down and not leaving as many* things to the last minute.
The more I plan ahead, the more relaxed I am (and my family is) on party day!

4. Location, Location, Location.
Before we moved to our current house (3 years ago) I always had my girls party at locations other than our house (our old house was small & had a tiny backyard). So, I used other locations like my parents house, the park, our neighborhood clubhouse & an indoor bounce house place). But, for the past 2 years, the girls parties have been held at our house. I
prefer having the parties at my house (but I know other people who avoid having parties at their house so they don't have to deal with the clean up, which, I agree is fabulous)
The reason I like having them at my house is so that I don't have to lug stuff from my house to the party place. I like having everything I need at my house & it allows me to focus more on the little details of the party (food labels, dessert tables, etc).
I LOVE doing dessert tables!

Claire's Candy Shoppe Party
I also like having parties at home because I feel you can do more themes.
Like that time for Claire's Cowgirl party when I had real live pony rides at our house.

In January, I was able to throw my oldest daughter a Pancakes & Pajama's 6th Birthday Party.
Again, this is personal opinion, so to each her own! Have the party wherever is most convenient for you!

5. Know your Limits & Have Fun!
If party planning & throwing parties for your kids stresses you out, then don't go overboard.
I don't give my kids birthday presents, their party is their present.
Many times people have asked me how I handle throwing parties for my kids.
The reality is, I thrive on throwing parties. I LOVE it. It doesn't stress me out at all.
I enjoy spending hours on pinterest getting party inspiration.
I love thinking of all the little details to make each party special.
I love seeing the theme come together.
I love creating all the handmade food labels & cupcake toppers.
I love when my girls tell me they had the best day ever at their party.
If this type of thing just adds stress to your life, then know your limits and keep the party simple so that you aren't overwhelmed!
You can click HERE to see all the parties I have thrown in the past 6 years.

You can find me here:
Blog * Facebook * Instagram: @mel_larson


And the winner of the body butter from Anna's giveaway is:


Congratulations, Erin! Email me with your address and the scent you would like @

If you missed the pics from our camping trip with Tally, you can check them out here!

Hope you guys have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Camping Weekend!

Last weekend, Matt and I took Tally on his first camping trip! Ironically, it was our first trip since high school- haha. I would say I'm more of a cabin-camper, if you will. Or a lodge-camper, or even a resort-camper (do they have those?). I was not entirely sure how much I would enjoy the no-running-water, cook-your-food-over-the-campfire, and tinkle-on-the-ground kind of camping. But I have to say, we had a BALL! Matt and I were already planning our next visit while we were there.

We went with my mom, sister, brother--in-law, and our two nephews. Everybody had a great time- espcially Tally! Little buddy was overwhelmed with excitement over all of the new sights and smells to explore and experienced his first full-body dive in the river (which I'm pretty sure was not intentional after observing how he approached the water every time after that). Here are two-hundred some pictures from the trip!

Snuggles with Nonna- buddy loves the car

testing the water...

I don't think he realized that he would go all the way under when he jumped in to play with the boys! Poor guy!

He retreated to his safe place- under the car ;)

"helping" set up the tents

Quick snooze ;)

Our make-shift leash since he couldn't get in the water while the boys were fishing

Maddox taking Tally on a walk ;)

After his dive-in incident, he was very careful when he entered the water ;)

Love this :)

This was hilarious- he got so brave and started running laps up the hill, would roll down the hill, run around my sister, and then start over again. Too funny!

Here's the roll down the hill! hahah- buddy was having a ball

And then he crashed the second he saw Matt sit down.

Like passed out.

So Matt carried him back to the car.

And he fell asleep in his arms.

Sweet buddy. :)

What is that smell, mama?

Our "room" for the night!

Noah helped catch our dinner!

And then he snapped some posed pictures ;) He's quite the photographer! 

He took this one too... Maddox posed for him. ;)

Manning the grill! Such a big boy!

Lemon Pepper Trout

First time trying freshly caught fish- so adventurous, haha

Digging holes- something he doesn't get to do in our backyard

Love that face

Cooking eggs in the morning- Tally wanted to help... or just eat the food. ;)

I'm so glad we got to go! We had such a great time and were so happy that Tally was so well!

Don't forget- today is the LAST day to enter Anna's giveaway! I'm thrilled to see how many people have visited the post to read about Anna's story! Last time I checked, it had been read over 400 times! I really want Anna's story to get as much attention as possible- right now they're raising money for the final attorney fees, M's passport, and the flights to get to Uganda- Will you consider spreading the word by sharing the post on your FB or Twitter accounts? Every single dollar she raises through her product sales goes toward bringing M home!

Remember, if you want to enter the giveaway, you have to leave a comment- you have three possible entries to win one of Anna's body butters (which are AMAZING!). If you don't leave a comment, you won't have an entry! The winner will be announced tomorrow. :)

Have a great day!